12 December 2009

Tougher Standards for Florida IDs Coming on 1 January 2010

Link to article over at Bay News 9: Tougher standards for IDs go into effect Jan. 1.

We have heard about REAL ID for a few years and the Federal government's role in implementing REAL ID. It is coming to Florida come 1 January 2010 and it's going to mean different, if not difficult, ways in obtaining or renewing your Florida Drivers License. The new rules are supposed to enhance security of identity documents such as drivers licenses.

Now here's the lowdown on what to expect on 1 January 2010 when you go to obtain or renew your Florida drivers license. Here's what you are going to have to bring with you when you go to the drivers license office to obtain or renew your license:

1. Primary identification: A certified US birth certificate, a US Passport or a US Passport Card. For US citizens born outside the United States you will need the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (issued by the US Department of State) and it has to be a certified copy; however, if you have a US Passport that's better as it is absolute proof of United States citizenship. (After all, passports are easier to replace than birth certificates if they get lost for some reason).

2. Social Security Number: You will want to bring your original Social Security card; that's the best.

3. Two proofs of Florida residential address: The State of Florida wants proof that you actually live here in the Sunshine State to get or renew a Florida drivers license. Here is a partial list of the documents you will need to prove Florida residency according to the folks over at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles at their speciality site, GatherGoGet.com:

Residential deed or monthly mortgage statement
Residential lease
Florida Voter ID card (this is your Voter Information card)
Florida vehicle registration or title
A utility connection order (60 days old or less)
Homeowners, condo unit owners or renters insurance policy or bill
A utility bill 60 days old or less

Now what if you are living with someone else such as your parents? They will have to accompany you to the drivers license office, provide a statement and provide proof of residence address as shown above. If you are living in a transitional shelter a letter from the shelter verifying that you live there is required.

OK. Now that you have your required documents, you can proceed to the nearest Florida drivers license office and obtain or renew your drivers license. When you receive your drivers license, it will have, among other things as required by the federal REAL ID law, your residential street address printed on your license.

What? Invasion of privacy? What's going on here?

Here's a comment that I posted over at Bay News 9's Viewer Center on this article:

To me, Florida's new drivers license requirements in the name of REAL ID is very dangerous. Why? There are a lot of Floridians like myself who have a residential street address but have all mail sent to a post office box for security reasons. Florida's new requirement effective 1 January 2010 will require that the residential street address be listed on the drivers license.

What makes this so dangerous is that if let's say someone obtains a domestic violence restraining order and the person who obtained the restraining order somehow loses his or her drivers license with the residential street address on it. Bingo! The domestic violence perpetrator who is not supposed to even come within 500 feet of the street address now knows where you live! Furthermore, Florida's residential street address requirement for drivers licenses will also make it very easy for stalkers to find you - if somehow you lose your drivers license and the stalker finds it then - voila - it's a gold mine!

And I agree with everyone else: Our Florida drivers licenses are slowly being turned into national identity cards thanks to REAL ID; a drivers license is simply that - a license by the State of Florida to operate a motor vehicle and nothing more. After all, driving is a privilege and not a right. (Emphasis mine)

A residential street address on a voter ID card is fine, as it proves where you live and what polling place you have to go to. On a drivers license, it is a different matter as it is used as a primary identification card; I do have a residential street address but all my mail goes to a post office box for security reasons. Presenting it to a law enforcement officer (especially if you get pulled over) is very important; you're supposed to carry your drivers license with you when you are operating your motor vehicle in the very first place. On the other hand, presenting a drivers license with where you physically live to a total stranger for identification opens up Pandora's Box to unwanted invasion of your personal privacy; that's why so many Floridians such as me have a post office box for privacy and security reasons.

Moreover, despite the security precautions taken by Tallahassee to safeguard the data on Florida's drivers licenses, leaks of personal data have occurred. Moreover, the State of Florida has a habit of selling your name and residential street address information that is on your drivers license to third parties despite a Federal law that provides for confidentiality of driver license information. Here is a link to a post I found on the FlyerTalk.com forum which addresses this subject very well.

Until recently, you could get a Florida drivers license, prove your residential street address, and have your license with your mailing address on it. That has changed thanks to REAL ID. The only exception to this new rule is only law enforcement officers.

In a nutshell, I agree with making identity documents such as a drivers license more secure but I do not believe in trading privacy for security. This is something our federal and Florida lawmakers need to address.

Now for one more thing, if I may have your attention for just a moment.

At the end of my comment I made to Bay News 9, I mentioned that driving is a privilege, not a right. That is true: The State of Florida gave you the privilege to drive when you apply or renew your drivers license, and the State of Florida can take away that privilege if you accumulate too many points on your record or are convicted of something more serious such as DUI.

I was reading the comments that followed mine on the tougher standards for Florida IDs and I found a comment made by someone under the pseudonym Mighty Mouse. Please let me quote part of the comment that Mighty Mouse made about me:

...I've been making that very same point here for over 7 years now every time some "DUMBO" like Edward Reinwald comes here and post's "Driving is a privilege, not a right"...

Luckily, I contacted Bay News 9 about this and found out that Mighty Mouse's offensive comments were removed. As you will see, Mighty Mouse misspelled my name and then went ahead and called me something that was very offensive and demeaning. While constructive criticism is welcomed the use of language that is offensive and demeaning is not.

Bay News 9 allows anyone to post a comment to any of their stories on their web site without any form of user registration; however, this is not the case here at the Edward Ringwald Blog or the Interstate 275 Florida Blog. In order to post a comment to any entry I have on either blog there is a two step process; registration with a Google account for first timers and when you actually post a comment it is sent to me for moderation prior to allowing your comment to be seen. This is why I ask when you make a comment to please keep it clean and family friendly.

And as for Mighty Mouse's surly comment about me, I feel that he thinks driving is a right, not a privilege. This is untrue. The Florida drivers license you hold in your wallet is a privilege granted to you by the State of Florida, of which it can be taken away. This is emphasized in the Florida Driver's Handbook and again when you go into the drivers license office to apply for or renew your license.

No comments: